North Korea successfully tested a hypersonic missile during a launch attended by leader Kim Jong Un, state media reported.
The suspicious launch was detected by the authorities of South Korea and Japan Tuesday, leading to the conviction of officials in Washington and Tokyo, and UN concern.
After exiting a rocket thruster, a hypersonic glide vehicle performed a 600 km (375 mile) “glide” then 240 km of “corkscrew maneuvers” before hitting a target at sea at 1000 km (621 miles), North Koreathe state news agency KCNA said.
The launch was the second hypersonic missile test reported in less than a week.
And South Korea said it appeared to show improved performance, with the weapon traveling over 700 km (435 miles) at a maximum height of 60 km (37 miles) and reaching a top speed of up to 10 times. speed of sound (7673 mph), although Seoul has not commented on its handling.
Unlike ballistic missiles that fly through space before returning on steep trajectories, hypersonic weapons aim at targets at lower altitudes.
Kim wants to strengthen the army
It was the first time Mr. Kim had officially witnessed a missile launch since March 2020.
And it underscored his New Year’s wish to bolster the military with cutting-edge technology at a time when talks with South Korea and the United States have stalled.
“The test firing was aimed at the final verification of the overall technical specifications of the developed hypersonic weapon system,” KCNA reported.
The agency added that “the hypersonic glide vehicle’s superior handling was most vividly verified during the final test firing.”
KCNA also said that Kim had urged military scientists to “further accelerate efforts to gradually strengthen the country’s strategic military power, both in quality and quantity, and to further modernize the military.”
The UN chief “very worried”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “very concerned” about the latest launch.
And the European Union urged the secret state to “respond constructively” to the United States’ desire for diplomacy.
Japan has also condemned the missile test, saying it undermines peace and security in the region, according to Japanese chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
“The actions of North Korea constitute a threat to the peace and security of our country, the region at large and the entire international community. We strongly condemn such actions,” he said. said in a briefing, News24 reported.
Although North Korea has not tested nuclear bombs or long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) since 2017, the country has developed and launched a range of more maneuverable missiles in recent years.
Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of weapons that aim to deprive enemies of traditional reaction time and defeat mechanisms.
President Joe Biden’s administration has declared itself open to talking with North Korea, but Pyongyang said the US overtures were empty rhetoric without more substantial changes to “hostile policies” such as military exercises and sanctions.